Favorite Appetizer: 2010 was the year of the appetizer. I broke this category down into seasonal favorites since embracing fresh produce and ingredients are important when creating a standout dish. On the contrary, sometimes an excellent dish is evocative of a memory and a feeling even when all the components aren't necessarily in season. Ah who am I kidding, I ate so damn many appetizers that I needed to award four as opposed to two.Winter Winner: Ragout of Local Forest Mushrooms with House Made Rabbit Sausage, Farm Fresh Poached Egg | Craigie On MainWinter Runner Up: Seared Foie Gras with Confit of Duck in Brioche with Wisconsin Dried Cherry Gastrique | Mistral Summer Winner: Prosciutto Americano with Asparagus, Fava Beans, Shaved Pecorino, Candied Walnuts, Breakfast Radishes & Black Truffle Vinaigrette | Ten Tables CambridgeSummer Runner Up: Chilled Corn Soup with Roasted Corn & Jalapeno | WoodwardFavorite Salad: It would be painstakingly difficult to categorize the salads in with the appetizers, even though they are often representative of an appetizer course and not a whole meal. (In my case!) I ate more phenomenal salads in 2010 than I realized as I set out in search of the winners. Creative ingredients were plentiful and I can still recreate the distinct tastes from memory months after eating. It was also the vibrant presentations that wowed me all the way to the finish. Winner: Native Heirloom Tomato Salad with Fresh Market Raspberry Vinegar, Vermont Goat Cheese & Thai Basil | Upstairs On The SquareRunner up: Frisèe and Goat Cheese Salad with Pickled Peaches & Crystallized Wasabi | Market (half portion pictured)Favorite Flatbread: Those specialty thin crust delights taking over menus and doing a damn good job of it, why yes I ate a lot of those too. The more inventive ingredients you can pair on one thin crust and make it work, the better. The runner up boasts a list longer than life with sauteed calamari, scallops, shrimp, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, tomatine and parsley. In the toughest match up yet, it was a tenderloin, caramelized onion and white truffle oil pairing for the win.
Runner Up: Thin Crust Pizzetta di Mare | Mare
Favorite Side of Brussel Sprouts. A small disclaimer to note these might be the only ones of their kind I ate out at a restaurant. Hey, it's my list - anything goes! I could literally eat a bowl of the winner and the runner up for breakfast lunch and dinner.Winner: Served in a Cast Iron Skillet with Crispy Pancetta and Parsley | MistralRunner Up: Cooked in Duck Fat | Craigie On MainBest Burger: You better believe I had my fair share of burgers in this city. I'm looking forward to trying many more of Boston's infamous in 2011.
Runner up: Crispy Wontons, Ginger Soy | MistralFavorite Risotto. I didn't eat a lot of risotto this year. Here's to the two I do remember eating, lucky for them the competition was slim to none. Regardless, I wouldn't have shared if they weren't top notch. Winner: Red Wine Risotto with Figs and Radicchio | RialtoRunner up: Risotto alla Pescatore | Rabia's Favorite Pasta Dish: Whose to say you shouldn't order this carb filled staple out at a restaurant? Come on people, live a little. Winner: Bison Bolognese | The Abbey Runner Up: Spaghetti alla Carbonara | ArtuFavorite Seafood Pasta Dish: It's a whole new ballgame when you add shellfish to the mix. An entirely different pasta dish a clam or shrimp makes.
Winner: Linguine Alle Vongole Macciato | Trattoria il Panino
Runner Up: Fettuccine Con Gamberi | Ristorante Villa FrancescaFavorite Fish Dish: Here fish fishy fishy! From Hake and Halibut to Sole, Salmon, and Swordfish, can't forget good old Cod and then there's the coveted Tuna, I'm always up for fish. Paired with seasonal vegetables and inventive sauces, the winners come in unexpected forms in what was a very close match of Cape Cod Bluefish and Grilled Rainbow Trout. Winner: Cape Cod Bluefish with Yellow Indian Woman Beans, Sugar Snaps, Pea Tendrils & Spicy Spanish Chorizo Sauce | Ten Tables CambridgeRunner Up: Grilled Rainbow Trout with Charred Leeks, Funghi Trifolat & Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette | Mare
Best Scallop Entree: Definitely a shellfish I need to be in a particular mood for. I think I cooked more scallops at home this year than I ate out. In any case, when the cravings struck, these dishes delivered.Winner: Seared Scallops with Corn and Bacon Succotash | Woodward
Runner Up: Scallops with Red Wine Lobster Sauce and Chanterelles | RialtoBest Cheesey Bites: OK, now I'm just reaching. In all seriousness, fried cheese as a prequel to a meal, perhaps enjoyed with a glass of wine or a cocktail at the bar never tasted so good.
Winner: Fried Halloumi Cheese | The Abbey
Winner: Fried Halloumi Cheese | The Abbey
Runner Up: Spinach Cheese Fritters | Market
[Rather than spend 8 hours linking the dishes back to their respective posts, check out my Restaurant & Bar Listings Page where you can locate my review of the experience as a whole at the various winning establishments!!]
Fortunately, the above list doesn't even begin to cover desserts or cocktails, never mind the win worthy non-Boston eats. It is fun and rather enlightening to recap the year in food, so there could very well be more award posts focusing on travel eats, drinks and sweets in my future!
What were some of your favorite dishes in 2010?!